Sunday, 12 October 2008

Here Comes Learning - A Keynote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson Pt3.

Will talked about how we need to prepare kids to work with people from multiple cultures, whom they are never going to meet, in order to create things together. He explained how it is predicted that in 2 years time most Fortune 500 companies will have a presence in an immersive world e.g. World of Warcraft, Second Life, etc. He suggested that people could be "going to work" as an avatar having packed their "virtual lunchbox" for the day. (Having a major Otherland moment here). It is such an amazing thought and totally reinforces just what a different world our children could be living and working in.

Will asked "How do we prepare our kids to connect with people who share their passion and work together to effect change?" I love this idea of kids working together to make a difference in the world. I love the idea of working with others myself to make a difference. I think Erin and her class are already off to a great start with this via their Kiwis for Kenya project. Projects like this one show that it really is possible.

Sheryl made a comment that really resonated with me, "None of us is as good as all of us." I thought this was a really powerful statement. The idea that the more of us that work together, the greater the change we can effect is quite a sobering and yet optimistic thought. Sheryl talked about how, with this in mind we needed to ensure that we and the children did not just simply use the tools at our disposal, but use them in a way that allows us to move through Shirky's continuum to the point where we are able to take collective action.

Another thing Sheryl said that really hit home for me was, "You can't give away what you do not own." This is so true. She went on to say that teacher's NEED to own it. By this she means that we need to be comfortable moving in these networks and communities, in having connectivity in using and exploring the digital tools available to us. I agree that this is vital, after all how else can you know what you are talking about? How else can you ensure the children are fully prepared to take their place in the world?

Sheryl talked about how we are working outside our comfort zone, how we are in a messy place of change, but that we are preparing our kids for their future! Again this struck a chord. The question is, how do we get everyone else on board with this? How do we get the message out there? What about parents? Their idea of school is based on their own experiences, we need to consider how we can communicate the need for change and the types of change to them.

Will added at this point that there are lots of questions and lots of challenges. With this I whole heartedly agree. Sheryl added that as educators we need to decide together what matters. She discussed the importance of us becoming networked learners, of collaborating with like minded people. I couldn't agree more. In the past year alone I have benefited immensely in terms of my professional and personal growth thanks to the collaborative and supportive group of educators who make up my PLN.

Sheryl identified us as the last generation of teachers who have a a choice about whether or not to embrace this technology/participatory media. She said the children in our classrooms now do not have this choice. She went on to add that we have a moral responsibility to make the choice to embrace it. She explained that while some of our kids will get this at home, many of our lower decile children do not have this safety net. She referred to it as a "safety net for their future" and that the only place our at risk learners would get this is within the "safety net" of our classrooms, which is why it is absolutely vital that we make the choice to embrace the tools, to own them, so that we can do our kids justice.

She finished by saying that New Zealand teachers need to move to true collaboration and collective action. She challenged us to to "Do it for the children's sake, challenge the status quot". Finishing on that note I felt excited and energised. Everything I heard made a lot of sense to me. I found it powerful because it reaffirmed my thoughts and beliefs, as a keynote it reflected where I am at with my thinking, with my own personal tipping point. This is a challenge that I am ready to take up. But, is this the same for everyone? What about those teachers who aren't there yet? What can we do to get everyone heading in the same direction? I'd love to hear what others think, what is your perspective? What do you think?

So here you have it, a three part rewriting of my frantically typed notes as processed and reflected on by me. If anyone thinks I've missed something or perhaps missed a key idea, please feel free to let me know in the comments and I'll come back and edit. I got SO much out of this keynote that it's hard to do it justice. Thanks so much Sheryl and Will for making me think, ask questions and even dream a little. I can't wait to see where this train ends up.

Here Comes Learning - A Keynote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson Pt2.

Will stepped in at this point to explore the concept of sharing further. He looked at how sharing on line is extremely easy, apparently blog posts, Flickr uploads, etc number in the millions each day. We talked about how the problem with this ease of on line sharing is that many kids using forums such as MySpace are not necessarily sharing in a way that is very appropriate. He went on to add that our kids are going to be Google-able and thus it is extremely important for them to think about what they are sharing. Apparently in the U.S. more and more people are being Googled by future employers. Will asked us to think about what we are doing to prepare our kids to make sure they are employable in 6-7 years time. He went on to say that we're not really preparing them to be sharable right now. I had to agree whole heartedly with this as I am absolute passionate about helping kids (and adults) to understand the importance of their "digital footprint" and encourage them to consider that everything they place on line stays on line. It was very affirming to see that I am definitely heading down the right track with this.

He also made a point about filtering our children's on line experiences. He gave Clarence Fisher as an example, Clarence doesn't moderate his kids blogs, he monitors them, because they have an unfiltered world at home. I totally agree, it makes much more sense to teach kids appropriate ways to deal with the nasties out there then wrap them up in cotton wool so that when they do encounter them they have no experience of how to deal with them appropriately. If they are given an opportunity to manage these situations in a safe and scaffolded environment, then surely they will be better prepared to meet them head on on their own.

Sheryl stepped up at this point to explain how sharing leads to connections, which eventually leads to the building of community. She talked about how she went from knowing no New Zealand based educators to connecting with a whole lot, to developing community, all due to their on line presence. She explained that it is important to continue to share, engage and post in order to maintain the community of practise and to allow it to grow over time. I know there are times where I have large gaps in posting to my blogs, although I do maintain a healthy level of interaction via Twitter. However, after hearing this I resolved to make a greater effort to not only blog with greater regularity, but also comment on the blog posts of others more often. I can also see the necessity of setting up situations in the classroom where my children have this opportunity as well.

Will shared examples of fan fiction sites at this stage as an example of the cooperative things kids are doing. He talked about how we can cooperate and create similar situations. He also mentioned Scratch and had me absolutely fascinated as he talked about a group of kids he hooked up on line via Skype, with an expert in Scotland who took them through how to use Scratch. Andrew was the 12 year old expert and he was up past his bed time - how cool is that?! I love the idea of using tools like Skype to connect kids with each other in real time situations. I certainly think this is an area that needs to be explored further. I am also very excited by the thought of children being able to see each other as experts, to be able to realise that the "experts" aren't just adults or teachers. I wonder what areas of expertise my children could offer in a similar forum? I definitely need to explore this idea further.

Sheryl talked about Bruce Tuckman's ideas of Teaming and explained how groups go through stages of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Apparently the reason we often don't see more evidence of change in school is because people get to the storming phase and give up before getting to the true performing stage. She also talked about how you can see pockets of isolated change in the school/classroom. That resonated with me as I could totally relate to the idea of being an isolated pocket.

(To be concluded in Here Comes Learning - A Keynote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson Pt3).

Here Comes Learning - A Keynote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson Pt1.

I'm going to explore this keynote in three parts as I got a lot from it and have a lot to share and consider. I figured that by breaking it up it will make for easier reading for those of you that are interested.

Whilst at ULearn08 I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to a keynote presented by Sheryl Nussbaum - Beach and Will Richardson, two US educators who I very much admire. They presented using a sort of tag team approach with each of them taking it in turn to share their message/thoughts with the audience. The title of the keynote was;
"Here Comes Learning". I found their presentation to be both inspiring and reaffirming, I could see that I am on the right path in my journey as an educator and learner as we move forwards in a new direction with education.

Will shared the story of 11 year old Laura Stockman and her blog 25 Days to Make a Difference. Laura started this blog after her much loved grandfather died in honour of his memory. She was determined to make a difference in the world by doing one good deed a day for 25 days. Her blog was the portal through which she shared her journey with the world. Now, around 10 months later, Laura is still blogging and still making a difference, her original plan has has just ballooned! Check out her blogto see just how much. Laura's blog is read all over the world, she's one awesome kid.

Sheryl then talked about her work with novice teachers involved in a networked project with threaded discussions. She discussed how this kind of network allowed for the sharing of several different perspectives about he topics discussed. I think one of the things that really struck me personally was her story of a young teacher who was questioning his decision to become a teacher. He was finding everything so overwhelming and, as many of us have done, he was starting to feel that he just didn't measure up, that this wasn't for him. He wrote about it in the forum and what he wrote came from the heart - he really was at the end of his rope. What he got back was an out pouring of support and encouragement from the others in the forum. Realising he was not alone he made the decision to stay in education, his post to the forum when he made this decision gave me goose bumps. This was an example of what a powerful medium a community of practise can be. I know from my own point of view that my PLN is like my life line, it's what keeps me going and helps me to feel that I am simply not just a voice in the wilderness.

Will talked about the need for "every child in every school to grow their own network in safe and effective ways". This really resonated with me and, as a mother as well as an educator, I can see the sense in this as these transformative technologies shape a very different tomorrow for our young people. I find this really exciting, if a little scary at times, but also realise that this concept is potentially very daunting and frightening for some. The other worrying thing is that I think perhaps many people out there just aren't aware of what's here already and what's coming up close behind. I first read Tad Williams "The Otherland" series back in 1999 and thought "yea right!" but, having reread it recently, I can see that much that was written about as science fiction has in fact now become science fact and I can see that many of the other concepts explored in that series may in fact become a reality in the not too distant future.

Sheryl then went on to talk about the need to place teachers in these situated learning communities of practise in order for us to support and enable the children in growing their own networks. She talked about how she felt that New Zealand has a good understanding of the power and value of these types of communities and cited our ICT Cluster system as an example. Sheryl used the following definition from Wikipedia to describe community:

"The process of social learning that occurs when people who have a common interest in some subject or problem collaborate over an extended period to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations."

She went on to relate this to virtual learning communities. Sheryl talked about communities of practise being situated learning communities e.g. in my PLN we're all educators and are interested in improving over time. Sheryl talked about how situated learning communities are all about improvement. A situated learning community, according to Sheryl, differs from a network because it evolves. She explained that in a situated learning community you would want co-created content and co-created community, which should result in co-ownership. She talked about how members of the community start to evolve and develop shared norms.

Sheryl mentioned seeing the learner in these environments as an innovator, a co-communicator. She then went on to outline Clay Shirky's steps in a continuum in the process of forming communities whereby it moves from Sharing to Cooperation to Collaboration to Collective Action. (Clay Shirky is the author of "Here Comes Everybody").

(To be continued in Here Comes Learning - A Keynote from Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson Pt2).

Friday, 10 October 2008

ULearn Day Two


Day 2

Started the day nice and early with another brisk walk through the streets of Christchurch to the Decadence Café for the Bloggers/Twitterers breakfast. This was a fabulous way to start the day, nice food, good company, time spent catching up with my online friends – just brilliant! In fact I could have stayed there longer just talking, getting to know each other better & just chilling. Thank you so much for organising it Simon, great idea, nice to have the opportunity.

After breakfast it was off to the conference venue. I sat at the Blogger’s café for a while just getting in the zone. Was feeling a little nervous by this point as I had to present later in the day and this time it was my “big one” the 90 minute interactive presentation!

I was interviewed & videoed by some of the fabulous kids from the Media Team. They were talking to me as a first time presenter about how I found the whole presentation process. Not sure what happens with all the video next, but it was neat to be asked.

Off to the keynote next where we got to see the awards ceremony for Microsoft Innovative Teacher of the year. Some stunning work being done by educators in schools around New Zealand. The posters to support their presentations have been on display in the foyer – just amazing. The speaker who followed – Steve Carden was just terrific. Made some interesting points, was a fantastic story teller. It was great to hear form the perspective of a “non educator”. I made a few comments on twitter about points he made that resonated with me. If you can hold out for 24 hours I shall add a quick post on my thoughts – I just need to retrieve them from Twitter when I’m able to be online again & have time to think it through.

After morning tea it was off to my first breakout of the day with Sheryl Naussbaum Beach. I have to admit to being just a tad star struck & when she shook my hand and said “Hi I’m Sheryl” it just made my day. An amazing lady, very knowledgable, very genuine. Her session was fantastic and shall be the source of another blog post I think as again I have a lot to ponder.

Highlight of lunchtime…finally getting to meet Mr Woody, another member of my PLN. By the time lunch rolled around all I could handle was a banana! & a glass of water. I sat upstairs in the presenters lounge with David and Marnie and just took the time to chill and try to calm my nerves. Then I headed over to the Crown Plaza to prepare for my presentation.

The room was a bit of a comfy fit for everyone (and I’m sure I had ring ins as I think there were more than 26 in there – but it was all good. So I just launched in and went for it! I think people really enjoyed learning about the Pacific Northwestern Tree Octopus & having the opportunity to view my live specimen! I actually think I tried to cover almost too much. I think next time I might break it up and do a few things, or maybe offer a session for beginners and then one that’s a little further along the continuum. I didn’t quite get what I wanted happening with the wiki – ( a time factor again) but it was all good, as really I just wanted people to take some time to play, explore and discover. The idea of creative commons was new to most of the attendees so I was pleased to have a chance to really plug that one! Other than all that, I had some great feedback, really positive, so I hope people got at least 1 thing out of it to take away with them. I figured that they could always revisit the wiki and explore things for themselves when they had the time and were in the head space to do so.

My last breakout was with Will Richardson, again I thought it was terrific and it was fun adding comments to the back channel he had streaming alongside his Google Docs presentation. I sat with Allanah & we back channelled our “talk to your neighbour” discussion!… he he he. Some valuable and thought provoking stuff once again. I’ll revisit the ideas further in a future blog post – to be honest, with presenting as well and trying to get around and meet everyone it’s been a bit hard to find time to just sit and reflect – I’m figuring I’ll roll the ideas round in my head and then blog them once I’m home and have time to think it all through.

The final part of the day was the conference dinner. Totally awesome! Excellent live performances going on, good band, good conversation, great food – it rocked! I was able to catch up with a few of my PLN friends and really enjoyed having the opportunity to catch up with Simon and have a good, long chat.

So now it’s really late and I need to catch a few hours sleep before the final day of Ulearn08. I’m off to interact with classroom bloggers tomorrow at Dorothy Burts breakout, then I finish where I started back with Andrew Churches learning about his Digital Taxonomy – really looking forward to both of those.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Day One of ULearn


Up bright and early, I marched off through the streets of Christchurch in the beautiful spring sunshine, to register for Ulearn08. I have to say that Christchurch really is a beautiful city, I love all the parks & the old stone architecture – it’s just magical.

Arriving as the doors opened I trot up to register – so much easier when you’re there before the crowd. Collected my registration pack, which included a nice USB data stick as a thankyou for presenting – Thank you CORE Ed.

Trotted up stairs to the presenters lounge to get my laptop configured – pretty easy really – just a case of turning it on. Saw Toni while I was there and said Hi. Then I wandered downstairs to check out the posters for the Microsoft Innovative Teacher awards. The posters were amazing, and the amount of work and detail involved was just astounding! They also have to do a six minute presentation before the judges – I’d hate to have that job. Met up with Marnie & David K there – which was really neat I’d met Marnie before but only knew David through his blog “Turning the SuperTanker”. It was nice to catch up with people I knew so I didn’t wander aimlessly. We headed upstairs to the presenters lounge to just chill out for a while.
While we were there Rachel & Lenva arrived so I had a nice time catching up with everybody. Went downstairs to get my list of delegates & there was Erin at the registration desk – so it was hugs all round.

Finally it was time to head off to the keynote. The sense of anticipation was starting to build – I was here & Ulearn was about to begin! For the first time ever I had my laptop open & was using it to take notes instead of the old pen & paper method. I was also able to follow the back channel of tweets through Twitter which were starting to pour in thick & fast. Chris Carter was up first – I was really enjoying the video he had to support his talk of educators & kids around NZ doing their thing – some awesome stuff happening there. Next up were Sheryl Nausbaum- Beach & Will Richardson – they presented together, taking turns to share the presentation. I think they raised some interesting points that are well worth thinking about. Some of them will take a lot more mulling over I think. I shall blog about them separately though.

After the keynote it was morning tea & then time for the 1st breakout. Had an awesome time at Andrew Church’s session. We did an online learning styles test (apparently I’m multimodal – a polite way of saying indecisive???). Then he took us through all kinds of tools and applications that could be used to reach & strengthen different learning styles. One of my favourites was “Rasterbator”! The name’s a bit of a worry, but it was a really cool application, you can basically take any size photo & blow it up as big as you want – way cool. I did discover that small pixel sizes work better.

Next up was lunch and I got a chance to catch up with Jamin, Jane, Suzie, Simon & Fiona. I also got to chat with my old DP from Levin who is now the principal of Coley Street School – nice to catch up.



The end of lunchtime saw my Breakout arriving! Allanah was doing the first taster session in the room & I was next. Allanah and I had never met face to face before so it was awesome to finally get to meet her. I kind of hung out in the corner during her presentation, enjoying the calming effect of the Jack Johnson album she had playing, as by this stage my hands were starting to shake for some inexplicable reason.
And then it was my turn! So here I was with 20 odd faces staring at me waiting for me to start. So I counted to 10, took a calming breath, and off I went for 40 odd minutes talking about VoiceThread & all it’s many charms. I was pleased that people asked questions, nodded, smiled, laughed and interacted - did all the right things. I figured at that point that I must be doing ok as no – one was asleep, so it’s all good. Now I just have tomorrow’s biggie to look forward too and then I’m done!
Headed back up to the Blogger’s Café afterwards and caught up with some of the others, including Barbara who I hadn’t seen all day. Simon had a really funky microphone that recorded what you said as an mp3. You then plug it into your computer via a USB connector on the other end and voila! Great for sharing news, group discussions etc. Totally kid proof apparently. At $85 dollars I was thinking it was a little bit ouchy, but very cool and of course it was another toy to add to my wishlist.
Stopped a while with Suzie and just chatted as by this point I was feeling exhausted, a bit headachy & just a tad over whelmed – it was nice to have some peace.
Caught up with the rest of the crowd from school and we headed off to dinner at Portofino. So now I’m in bed blogging, just processing through the day. Have a lot to think about. There’s a lot going on and only so much time to get it all done. Please excuse the lack of links – I’ll go back through my post tomorrow if I can and add them , otherwise I’ll get them in place by Saturday – no internet access in the hotel so I have to do what I can between breakouts, etc while at the conference venue.
I promise I’ll blog the key notes properly as soon as I can. But I think it’s time for zzz’s as I’m up at 6am to get ready for the Blogger’s Breakfast and it’s just gone midnight.
Having a ball though. One of the best things for me has to be meeting up with everyone from my PLN – it’s just fabulous.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

ULearn08... I'm on my way!

ULearn 08 is finally here. It's been very much at the forefront of my mind for the best part of the year (let's face it, I've been looking forward to it since ULearn 07!)

In a couple of hours I'm off to the airport and on my way to Christchurch. I'm sitting here right now with my mind (and stomach) absolutely churning with different thoughts and emotions: anticipation, excitement, nervousness, apprehension and a healthy dose of worry to round it all off.

Anticipation - I am so looking forward to all the amazing learning and networking and just know is going to take place over the next few days. I am also anticipating that it will be cold!

Excitement - "I'm going to ULearn...I',m going to ULearn..." Total geek out time, get to meet up with all my online friends - yay! I'm like a kid the night before Christmas.

Nervousness, Apprehension & Worry - I'm presenting...TWICE! I've made multiple back ups of my presentations, have spent countless computer hours creating them and have the sore elbow and stiff shoulders to prove it! I know I'm well prepared, I think my presentations are useful (and pretty - not that pretty is important...but I like pretty!), however; this still doesn't stop me worrying that something will go wrong, or I'll mess up, or I'll bore my audience.... all the usual paranoid and irrational thoughts that keep the adrenaline pumping. I've decided there are times where perfectionism is a bad thing. I'm also a bit anxious because I have to fly. I hate flying! I like going to new places, but I hate flying there. To add to my nerves there is supposed to be a storm front across half the country - nice!

Voice Thread
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: voicethread ulearn08)


Authentic Ict
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ict_classroom ulearn08)


My wiki to support my presentation & provide notes and further information can be found here.

So here I sit, full of expectations. I really need to close the lid on my 'puter and prepare to go offline for a while (that's an ask in itself - might have to divert Twitter to my phone...maybe not, imagine how fast the memory will fill up!) Rohi the Kea is ready for her trip down south, my bags are packed and guess what?



I EVEN HAVE A T-SHIRT!!!
So if you're looking for me I'll be in this little number.

See you at ULearn08 everyone.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Shiver Me Timbers...A Great Piratical Collaboration.

pirate face
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Photo from Flickr sourced under creative Commons Licence - Yarrrr!!! by turbojoe

It all started with a "tweet"...
Friday night sitting in front of my computer as I often do, periodically glancing up as I hear the familiar "ping" of another set of tweets streaming by. One tweet in particular catches my eye digitalmaverick wants to know if others plan to participate in International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Intrigued, I think about for a moment and then decide - why not? I tweet back. heymilly is keen too, we discuss the possibility of a Skype call between classes. digitalmavericksays he'd love to do that but the time zone differences would make it interesting. I think about it for a moment and suggest a VoiceThread, everyone likes the idea so I offer to create it and start trawling Flickr for creative commons pictures relating to pirates - would you believe how many there are? heymilly suggests a wiki to pull the project together, immediately she's on it starting to create our project wiki here. Lenva tweets to count her in too and offers to create the graphics and home page - she's a wiki whizz! Meanwhile tasteach, Allanahk and many more are surfing the net for us, suggesting links and just generally getting into the spirit of the whole thing.
By lunchtime yesterday (Saturday) the whole wiki was in place, complete with graphics and a VoiceThread. I even managed to get my poor laryngitis ravaged vocal chords to cooperate long enough for me to drawl a piratical message in my best pirate voice to introduce the VoiceThread. Our wiki keeps getting better all the time with more and more bits added.
I was absolutely chuffed this afternoon to read this blog post written by fmanning about our Friday night endeavours.

talklikeapirate » home
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!


I think the thing that has amazed me the most about this whole process is how one chance remark on Twitter has led to this amazing, collaborative effort which is now available for global classes to join in on if they so choose. Could we have done this even a couple of years ago? Would it have been as easy to put together? Would we even had access to the right tools and software on line in order to easily achieve our aim? The power of the web is a source of endless wonder and fascination to me. There is so much potential, especially in light of Web 2.0 technologies. I think it's vital for all educators to become comfortable and familiar with the tools available so that we really can infuse these seamlessly and authentically within our classroom programmes.

And, all that aside, it was great fun! I enjoyed working with others in that way to achieve a common goal - imagine what our kids would make of being able to co-construct a web based project with others in different parts of the city, country, globe!

So avast me hearties! Be ye willin' to join yer pirate bretheren this Friday? Hoist the colours...Yo ho!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

PicLits

Haven't blogged for a while - things have been really hectic! Will resume shortly I promise. For now I'll leave you with my latest discovery...

Just been playing with this site - PicLits which is a place for creating poetry online. Check out my creation below.

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

How Geeky Are You?

Thanks to "Dragonsinger" on Twitter I now know how geeky I am as well as how much of a nerd I am. Is there any hope for me in the coolness stakes? I think probably not! ;)
50% Geek

Created by OnePlusYou

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

How Nerdy Are You?

I was surfing the net trying to occupy myself and came across this - good for a giggle. An online test of nerdiness - apprarently I'm a Dorky High Nerd!

NerdTests.com says I'm a Dorky High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

31 Day Comment Challenge - Self Audit

Ok, so I'm later doing this then I intended as the technology in my house decided to have a disagreement with the internet yesterday. Having spent 6 - 7 hours wrestling with it last night, I finally sorted it out this morning.

Right, so now that's off my chest I'm ready to begin my "self audit".

How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?
Once per week on a good week, sometimes not at all. Often I comment in my head, but never quite get round to committing it to writing. So why don't I comment more often? Because I can't think of anything to add to what has been said already, because I worry that what I have to say will seem light weight compared to some of the other comments I have read, because I really admire the blogs author and don't want to write something that makes me sound like a ninny (how teenage of me), or because I get hit by a wave of overwhelming shyness and just can't convince myself to write anything. Reading all that it would seem that I have a fear of being judged by others! Thinking about it, the blogs I comment on the most are those where I have developed some form of relationship with the blogs author (usually via Twitter) which means I feel "safe" so it is less of a risk. Hmmmm interesting. What do others think? Do you tend to stick to "safe" blogs or do you venture out with confidence?



Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?

Not usually. From time to time I will click to be updated via email if I am particularly interested in a discussion and where it is going, otherwise no. Since beginning the challenge I have signed up for cocomment and after ironing out a few things I seem to be able to track my comments via my blog using the cocomment widget in my sidebar.


Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?
Mostly the same blogs, there are some I visit quite regularly. I do try to push myself to comment on blogs that I haven't done before, maybe only a couple per month, but I guess that's a start. That's part of the reason for my involvement in this challenge as I know this is an area that needs work.

Gina Trapini's Guide To Blog Comments"

Click on the link above if you would like to read Gina Trapini's " tips on better blog commenting. How do I measure up?

Stay on Topic
So the basic idea behind this one is to keep your ideas relevant to the blog post you are commenting on. I definitely do this, I don't tend to deviate with random thoughts when leaving a comment.

Contribute new information to the discussion
So do I leave comments if I can't think of anything to add that would enhance the conversation? Well no (as I have already mentioned), but, "conversation" is the key word here. I'm not sure that all blogs I read and their related comments are always a conversation as such. Sometimes they are simply sharing something someone has done, discovered, etc and not necessarily some form of "deeper" conversation. I might be wrong (or more to the point you might disagree) but it's just a thought I had. Point of interest, I must be a glutton for punishment then, or really conscientious as Gina Trapini's post" says:
"The longer a comment thread the more likely someone has already said what you're thinking, and the less likely it is to be read by future visitors anyway."
I ALWAYS read all the comments so that I can get a well rounded picture of all the thoughts and opinions being offered on a topic. Sometimes there are gems hidden in the murky depths. Should someone feel that they shouldn't add their voice to the conversation because there are so many others involved? If this happens what gems might be lost?

Don't comment for the sake of commenting
I certainly don't. Do people really leave "First" as a comment? Well that's a new one on me - why would you?


Know when to comment and when to e-mail

Now this is an interesting one, I definitely agree. Here's a thought though, what if there is no way to email because no link is provided? Then again, would these types of conversation be the ones you would have with those you know a lot better then some of your other commenters? If that was the case they'd probably know how to contact the blog author by email, so no issue then.


Remember that nobody likes a know-it-all.

Something I suffered from as a child, something I try to avoid when leaving comments now as an adult. That said, isn't being a "know it all" subjective? Does what I consider being a "know it all" necessarily reflect what someone else considers being one? Does it in fact depend on ones frame of reference, cultural norms, etc? - Am I being one now? ;)

Make the tone of your message clear
I certainly try to, I've been aware for a long time that misunderstandings are more likely in written conversation. Though, I'm not sure if I always want to leave smilies in my comments - I think this might depend on the tone of the blog/post itself. It would also depend again on that "relationship" with the blog's author that I mentioned earlier.

Own your comment
I do. I don't post anonymously. I always leave my gmail and blog address if the option is available.


Be succinct

Hmmmm? Mostly I keep it brief, BUT, occasionally my responses to topics I feel passionate about have got a little too long. Sometimes I don't think I've written much as it doesn't look that big in the little text box... then you hit submit! Opps, did I really write that much? Can't take it back once it's gone. I might have to work on that one.

Cite your sources with links or inline quoting
I do my best. I don't often write the types of comments where I need to do this though, it's more a blog post thing.

Be courteous
Always. Sometimes I might respectfully disagree, but I'm always polite.

Don't post when you're angry, upset, drunk or emotional
Don't really drink so that's not going to happen. If something I've read angers or upsets me I tend to rant at my long suffering husband about it. If I'm feeling emotional about something else I'm more likely to surf iTunes then surf blogs - so no, I don't post when I'm in a negative head space.


Do not feed or tease the troll

What's a troll? I'm not sure I totally got that one, I sort of do...I think. I take it this isn't the cute kind with the funny faces and sticky up hair then?

And if you are part of The Comment Challenge remember to add the ” comment08 ” tag to your post.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

31 Day Comment Challege - Behind Already!



Why Participate?


I've signed up for the 31 Day Comment Challenge in the interests of pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I was thinking the other day how funny it is that despite the relative safety of your online persona, my shyness still leaks through. I'm not sure if that last sentence quite makes sense, but essentially what I'm getting at is that even though I'm not engaging in a face to face conversation my inhibitions often stop me from leaving a comment.

Then, on the flip side of this is the fact that I love to get comments and feedback from others. In part I blog for myself as a way of jotting down my thoughts and ideas for future reference. However, I also blog hoping that what I have to say will be of some use (or at least interest) to others - kind of a combination of my love of sharing my learning/resources and my frustrated inner author. Comments from others shows that you are not merely talking to yourself.

With this in mind I decided I needed to be involved with this challenge in order to give myself the "push" I need to comment with greater regularity - to both build my confidence and to ensure that I am giving others the type of feedback that I enjoy receiving myself.


Photo from Flickr uploaded on October 3 2006 by Memotions licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence.

Behind Already


Now the challenge runs from the 1st to the 31st of May. As it is the 4th, I'm already 4 days behind! I plead the fact that I had to get organised for the start of the new school term tomorrow. I was having to resist the urge to log in and work on the challenge tasks.

Now, this already illustrates the power in being involved in a challenge like this (at least for me) as my natural "girly swottiness" means that I feel compelled to complete the required tasks and make sure they are done on time. Which is not to say that this is some form of strictly regimented "thou shalt" type of a task, after all my participation is purely voluntary. I think what it is though,is the fact that you have signed up for something that others are also involved in and you just know that you want to do it properly and do it justice.

I also feel that it is important to participate fully and to the best of my ability as this is the best thanks I can think of for all the hard work Sue, Kim, Silviaand Michele have put into getting this challenge up and running.


Logo created by Christine Martell

Daily Tasks


So today I have 4 tasks to complete. One I have already done - Sign up for a Comment Tracking Service. I did this as soon as I signed up for the challenge and have set up an account at Cocomment. This will allow others participating in the challenge to track my comments.

I have to leave a comment on a blog I have never commented on before, which I shall do soon as there are plenty of blogs that I read that I have yet to leave comments for.

I have to leave a comment on another blog post that asks a question in order encourage conversation/dialogue between myself, the blog author and other readers. That I shall do soon too.

Finally, I have to complete a "commenting self-audit" which I think I shall do as a separate post as this one is getting quite long enough already.

So I'm off to complete my self-audit and start on my path towards improving my commenting on blogs - both my own and those of others. I'm looking forward to the challenge, the fun of participating, the new skills I hope to develop, the new online acquaintances I hope to meet and the reinforcing of my current online relationships.

And don't forget, if you are part of The Comment Challenge remember to add the comment08 tag to your post.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Encouraging Self Reflection and Thoughtful Decision Making.

Not the most attention grabbing title, but I promised Amanda I would blog about this and I was determined to get it done before I went to bed tonight (which is now this morning).

We’re in the middle of our school holidays right now, but about 3 weeks before the end of term my class spent a week creating advertisements about themselves. They were required, as part of our Team 5 integrated topic “Advertising Me” to create a television type commercial. This commercial had to have a jingle and some form of catch phrase. It was suggested that they use Movie Maker to create their advert. I was concerned that Movie Maker would be too complex for some of these children, especially as we had a very short time frame to complete their advertisements in and many of the children were unfamiliar with the programme.

After sharing the task requirements with them, I asked the children which software they felt would be the most useful to create their advertisements and they came up with 3 possibilities
  • Movie Maker
  • Photo Story
  • Power Point

We had 2 full days and 3 half days available to us in the ‘Discovery Centre’ (our school’s tech suite) so I knew our time was limited. Prior to going to the Discovery Centre the children had spent a couple of weeks working out their slogan, writing their jingle and story boarding & scripting their advertisements. We had also viewed several examples of television advertisements and had developed our own criteria for what would make a good advertisement.

Our first session arrived and I had made the decision to take things up a notch. I could have made the decision as to which software they would use and tell them they were all going to use it. However, as I believe in challenging my kids and encouraging them to think for themselves/ use problem solving strategies, I decided to give them the choice. In order to make an informed choice I felt it was important to provide the children with an opportunity to simply play, explore, experiment with each of the programmes so that they could see the potential and pitfalls for themselves.

The children were asked to create a mini movie about a recent class trip or a story they had written. I had folders with pictures suitable for both possibilities set up on the intranet ready to go. All they had to do was to recreate their mini movie 3 times – once in Power Point, once in Photo Story and once in Movie Maker. They spent the day working on their movies, calling each other over to come and look or to help with suggestions and solutions. I kept myself moving around the room asking questions and encouraging them to think about the pluses and minuses of each tool.

At the end of the day I asked the children to gather together in their “table groups” (groups of 4 that they regularly work with) and discuss & record the pluses and minuses of each programme. They then had to make a decision as to which particular programme they were going to use for their advert. As each advert was an individual piece they could all choose something different if they wished. They had some interesting opinions (Click on the image of the table below and it will take you to a larger version that you can read).




Now this was the first time they had been asked to do something like this and they were mostly 9 years old, but I think they did well for a first time. This is certainly something I will continue to encourage during the year. For most of these children their only previous independent experience had been with Power Point. They’d watched me create a quick movie for our “Voices of the World” contribution on Photo Story, but hadn’t used it before. I was very careful not to influence their decisions by telling them which programme I thought would be best for this particular task (Photo Story) so it was interesting to see what they thought. In fact, about two thirds of them opted for Power Point – the main reason being that they were familiar with it and they liked the pretty backgrounds and the whiz bang effects. About 5 of them picked Photo Story and only 2 chose to use Movie Maker. There are 27 kids in my class in total.

The children spent the remainder of the week working on their creations. This included taking photos or short video clips and putting it all together to create their advert. Many of the children started to re-evaluate their original choices as the week progressed, especially when they found the tool they had selected was not able to do what they needed it to do, or it did it, but not in the way they wanted. This was particularly true for the children who had opted to use Power Point. Most of them persevered with their existing choice though, some saying they would use something else next time, others saying that they still preferred Power Point despite the fact they were unable to do all the things they needed to in order to meet class criteria. A couple of them wanted to transfer their Power Points to Photo Story so they could use the features available through that programme, so I taught them how to save their whole slide show as a set of jpegs so they could import them into Photo Story. (As an aside I felt they adverts created using a combination of programmes ended up being the best examples produced. The children were able to take advantage of some of the best features of both programmes).

Finally we had our class viewing session and adverts were assessed by self, peer and teacher review according to the criteria we originally set. The final task I set for the children was to complete an evaluation of the whole process and product. I asked them to say which programme they used, did it do what they wanted it to – they had to explain their response and would they choose a different programme next time & why? Here are some of the responses:
“I would stay with Power Point because I find the other ones hard to use.”
‘I think I would use Movie maker next time for a bit of a challenge”
‘I would rather use Movie Maker or Photo Story next time because they have more features.”
“I would use Photo Story again because if you want to go back and fix something you do not delete your progress.”
“I would choose a different one so I could learn.”
“I would maybe probably use Photo Story next time because I think personally it’s the best.”
“I would use Movie Maker because you can put in movies you have recorded.”
“I used Power Point because I was familiar with it and I would use it again because there was nothing else I needed.”

I found this whole week to be an interesting and useful learning experience for both the children and myself. They have covered several curriculum areas and have been required to use problem solving strategies and be reflective about their use of technology as well as the other aspects of the unit. I can’t wait to see the progressions they make as we move through the school year

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Just because... a bit of light relief.

Had to share this simply because it amused me. (Plus I love the Sound of Music - sad but true). All that aside, if you listen carefully the educational advice aspect is very true and worth considering. Don't forget to sing along.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Flock

I'm just playing with my Flock web browser as I explore the possibilities of this social networking based tool. Technically speaking, if this actually works, pressing the "publish" button should send this to my blog. I guess we need to see what happens.

Blogged with the Flock Browser


Wohoo! It worked :) I added this after it uploaded by signing in to edit though Blogger like I normally do. This could prove to be a very useful tool. I already like the fact that I can follow Facebook, Twitter and Flickr via my Flock browser. I can also subscribe to and follow RSS feeds for blogs I want to keep an eye on. If I click on my favourites button it automatically adds it to my del.icio.us account - very cool. There are a few other neat features that I still need to play with, I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Playing Again

Just had a play with Bookr and made this. I thought I might use it for our "Wild New Zealand" unit next term. Very cool to be able to make a "book" with pages that turn. I also like the fact that it is embeddable.



I seem to "play" online a lot. Not that I think this is a bad thing, I personally feel that the best way to learn to use new technology is to take the time to play and explore. By playing you can come to grips with how something works. It also enables you to identify the pitfalls and possibilities. The more you play, the more ideas you start to generate for uses in the classroom.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Twitter - it works for me.

I think one of the best things about being a connected learner/educator (and I count myself as both - I am learning so much) is the global connections I am able to make. I am building my Twitter network, working towards regular blog posts and avidly reading and following the blogs of other educators. I also belong to a couple of nings (links in sidebar). Twitter for me really has been the most powerful social networking tool. I know I have probably said it before, but it really has made a huge difference to me, both personally and professionally. When I try to explain what it is to others I tend to get funny looks or comments like, "Well what's the point?" I am also aware that there are some out there in cyber space who also see little value in it.
Those I follow through Twitter are all educators and this is where it really works for me. I am able to follow, share with, learn from and connect with like minded others in a form of self driven PD. Twitter has broadened my knowledge of the educational potential available through net based 2.0 tools. I can see what others are doing with their classes and even organise for my children to participate in global collaborative projects.
Last night was a perfect example of why Twitter works for me. My class are soon to be producing video commercials for their "Advertising Me" unit and I was searching for useful ways to teach them about camera angles. I put out a tweet asking if anyone knew of any sites or resources - I figured that maybe someone would see and I might get a reply. In a matter of minutes I'd had responses from several people, for a range of different sites relating to my query. I was stoked! needless to say, my class had a wonderful time today exploring the links and developing a really solid understanding of terms like close up, mid shot, panning, worms eye view, etc.
The second neat thing (well for me anyway) that occurred last night came just as I was thinking about closing the laptop and trotting off to bed. Suzie Vesper and Sujokat both sent out tweets asking if anyone wanted to try out WiZiQ. I didn't even know what it was but thought ,"why not?" What followed was half an hour of mirth, merriment and good old fashioned fun as we played with this. It was neat to hear people's voices, especially as they are all people I "talk"(read as type/write) to online, but have never met in person. I also got an opportunity to explore a tool for collaboration and presentations that I would other wise have had no knowledge of . My mind is already churning over the possibilities - I even jokingly suggested to another teacher this morning that you could teach from home if you were sick as you'd be able to hear the class, talk to them, share files with them and write up info for them. They could do the same for you at home. (Don't worry I'm not quite that bad...yet!)
The net result of my experiences last night was that while I got a few hours less sleep then I should have, I had expanded my horizons, made connections, interacted with others and felt a real sense of community and belonging.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Social Bookmarking

Came across this in my web wanderings today. I thought it explained Social Bookmarking very clearly. Posted on Slideshare by heyjude.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Meme: Passion Quilt

I've been tagged twice!! Once by Nedra and once by Allanah to participate in the Passion Quilt Meme created by Miguel Gulhin. Thank you for tagging me, I still get a kick out of the fact that other people are reading my blog too.
I knew what I was passionate about, the trick was finding a picture that actually represented what I was trying to convey. After looking a pictures of people of various ages, technological devices, signs, etc - I finally found these guys. To me they have a look of wide eyed curiosity and I know from my own cats that cats are constantly exploring and discovering their world, taking risks, problem solving and persevering until they achieve their desired result. I wanted to convey one of my main aims as a teacher and life long learner and for me this picture says it all.


Here are the rules:

1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
2. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
3. Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

I now tag the following 5 people:
Toni Twiss
Rachel Boyd
jlietze
Sarnee
Jane Nicholls

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Playing Again!!

I'll get some work done at some stage - procrastinating again by playing with tools and toys on the web. Having said that, I am exploring what these things can do in order to see how I could apply them within a classroom setting.
Just been playing with bubbl.us and created this







It's kind of a work in progress and needs more thought put into it, but it's a start. I think I quite like using this as a tool.
Off to do some planning for tomorrow now.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

When It Rains...Surf and Play!

The weather outside is disgusting - rain, wind, grey and gloomy. So what's a girl to do but sit down with her trusty laptop and spend (waste) the day playing with what the web has to offer. I have been following and responding to tweets from Twitter, catching up with blog posts that need to be read, digested and responded to, exploring the networking option on de.licio.us, playing with iTunes and a cute little widget called Moody, setting up my personal book catalogue at LibraryThing (can't get a widget yet - have to wait 2 hours 'cause they're down for maintenance), updating Facebook and playing with Skitch. PHEW!!! I'm sure there are plenty of things I could ( read should) be doing, but sometimes I just like to take the time to be totally self indulgent and play.

Skitch
looks like it could prove very useful (as well as being fun) and the little icon looks so cute in my dock. I've been having a play to see what you can do. Haven't tried a screen shot yet, just a drawing and using iCam to take a photo of the cat. Check out my experimentation...

Play
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!


Cam
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!


I'll say one thing for it - Skitch makes uploading images to your blog a piece of cake! I 've just had a go at uploading a photo from my iPhoto library - it's rather a scary pic - what happens when you let your 11 year old photograph you when you are over tired - but you get the idea.

DSCF0015
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!


I can see a lot of possibilities here - I'll have to start thinking about uses for the classroom. This is always providing our filters and firewalls will let me use it at school. If not I'll just have to get creative.

On a more sensible and serious note - there really is soooo much available out there on the net, plus what your computer can do in terms of what it comes with etc. I have so many things I'd like to try out with my kids, but sensibly I realise that you can't do it all. It's my intention to sit down this weekend and map out my intentions, goals and where I would like to head with my class in terms of using and infusing ICT, to ensure that it is purposeful and will enhance their learning, rather than being a total play experience with no real purpose. Which doesn't mean that I don't think they should play - in fact I think play is the best way to learn just exactly what a tool can do. But in terms of a learning experience, at some point the play probably needs to move towards something a little more structured. Anyway, I shall ponder it a bit more and post back here when I'm done. Off to play some more...

Thursday, 21 February 2008

We're Tearing The Walls Down... One Brick At A Time

My class and I have made our first steps into the world of classroom blogging. Yesterday we worked together to create our first blog post. The children had so much to say, the ideas just kept tumbling out - our blog post ended up quite long, but I was absolutely stoked with their enthusiasm and the number and range of contributions. One of the things that was just wonderful to watch was how one child's idea would spark something for another child, who would add their contribution, and so on and so on... They were really thinking about the structure and sequence of our post, I heard comments like - "I would like to add a sentence just before the sentence about..." or "That paragraph there might be better at the top because..." The kids were engaged and motivated and they were exploring oral language, reading, collaboration, cooperation, thinking about structure and audience.

What they find the most exciting is the idea that they have a real audience, their parents and other family members , other teachers and classes in our school and in schools across Auckland, New Zealand and the world. This was made even more real for them when Amanda visited their blog last night and left them a comment. This meant that I was able to return to school today and, less than 24 hours after there entry was posted, share feedback from a real live reader. The kids were absolutely thrilled and can't wait for Amanda to get back from L@S so she can share their blog with her class. Thank you so much Amanda - you made their day.

At this stage I am scribing for them and we are creating our post as a whole class, shared writing experience. I added the links and photos for them too. I am working towards the children being able to take responsibility for all aspects of our blog. I'm hoping to use something like blogging buddies, monitors or teams - possibly evening having children take a turn at being editor in chief so that someone has the responsibility of giving the post a final ok before uploading. I'm still playing around with ideas in my head at this stage - I need to mamp out a long term vision to ensure the whole process scaffolds smoothly and remains a worthwhile learning experience.

In order to sell the idea of blogging to my principal I decided to make their blog invite only so that it is pass word protected. This is a mixed blessing, as on one hand I can restrict access to the type of audience I approve of, on the other hand - it could reduce their potential audience of acceptable and legitimate readers due to the extra step and hassle involved. What it does mean is that parents have to request an invite in order to get their password to view the site and the children will have to wait for their feedback until this is all sorted. However, I am sure once things are all up and running this will be fine.

I am hoping to be able to invite some other classes from around NZ (and beyond) so that they can have an audience of their peers, as well as providing them with the opportunity to visit and comment on other blogs so they get to experience the true power of blogging.

We are beginning to create our classroom without walls, just baby steps at first and slowly, brick by brick we will get there. I'm feeling excited and positive about our learning journey.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Thoughts.

I'm not a huge fan of the terms digital native/immigrant as I'm not sure that people always slot nicely into those categories. By virtue of my birth date I should be an immigrant and yet I don't behave like an immigrant or learn like one (according to the accepted definitions) and I had unique experiences growing up that may have contributed to this. Although, having said that I did most of the growing up that I can remember in the late 70s/ early 80s - so maybe I'm not truly in the time frame for immigrant either. My current question that I am pondering is, what do we call people like me who don't slot neatly? Do we need to have these generalised names at all? Is there are better way of looking at it? Is it really about your birth date or is it more to do with your mindset and how much you embrace change and the new technologies? I guess none of this is mind blowing stuff and it probably doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. To be honest I really don't like labels and I guess it is a way of illustrating, in a very straight forward way, the differences between generations. Part of the issue for me I think is that I don't like people making assumptions without knowing a little more detail. By the same token, is it fair to assume that all our kids are natives? I've taught in plenty of places where many of the children don't even have access to computers and play stations (for example) at home and have little opportunity to interact with a wide range of technology. Could these assumptions make a difference? If so, would it be a positive one or a negative one? Would we push them to do things assuming that they can? Or, would we instead make the mistake of not ensuring that they have the necessary scaffolds and supports to truly benefit from the tech they use at school?
Like I said, these are merely musings, just things to think about. What do you think?

Saturday, 2 February 2008

My PLN has taken me on an amazing PLJ Pt 2 - PD & personal connections.

Ok so back to PLNs and PLJs. Thanks to following blogs through google reader and blogmeister, plus the regular tweets from twitter, I have found out about all sorts of PD opportunities and useful 2.0 software. In the last 10 days I have had a wonderful time exploring, creating, thinking and playing - never mind the other gidgets and gadgets I've already discovered thanks to my PLN. My PLN let me know about Educon20 that was held in Philadelphia last weekend. This meant I was able to view online presentations of the various workshops, either in real time or later when it suited me, thanks to the magic of UstreamTV - something I knew nothing about 2 weeks ago. Also thanks to UstreamTV and my PLN I have been able to participate in the Unconferences each Wednesday from the International School of Bangkok - here, teacher Kim Cofino sent out an invitation via Twitter. The great thing about UstreamTV, when you view it in real time, is that you can log into the chatroom attached to the show (you just need to sign up as a member first) and you can actually add your comments, thoughts and opinions to those that are participating on the screen in front of you as well as other people in the chat room. A fantastic way to participate in professional development with like minded others.
Another great way to participate in PD and discussion with others is via Women of the Web 2.0. Every Tuesday at about 8pm our time they have a live radio type discussion, which is also available later as a podcast, and again there is the option of signing into the chatroom and participating in the discussion. Very cool.
Thanks to my PLN I was able to set up a wiki to share all my links and follow up info for my conference presentation instead of having to add to demise of a few more trees using the more traditional paper handouts.
Twitter is fantastic too. After uploading all my presentation info to my wiki - including my slideshow (another great web 2.0 tool I found out about from my PLN is Slideshare)I asked if a few of my Twitter contacts could read through my presentation and give me some feedback. This they did and I was able to make some changes and tweak a few parts thanks to their suggestions. They also helped to boost my confidence before I presented as I was very nervous. So a big thank you to Rachel, Allanah and Amanda.
Blogging I have done for a while now, having started my family and friends blog earlier last year where I share my daily chitchat, scrapbooking etc. I added this blog after ULearn last year as a place to share my educational thoughts, learning and conversations without boring my family and non teaching friends to tears. What I love about blogs is the fact that you can comment on other people's blogs having read about their thoughts and ideas and engage in a dialogue about various topics, etc. It also provides people with an opportunity to share their opinions with you via your own blog.
I guess one of the nicest things about Web 2.0 is that it's all about making connections and maintaining them too. I find that with teaching you are so busy, add parenthood to that and general family life, as well as the many other demands on your time and it can be quite hard to stay connected with others, you just do your own thing day by day. Even though I know my mum thinks it's a bit weird that I happily talk to people I've never met, let alone seen in real life, I think I have established some wonderful online friendships and acquaintances. It has also allowed me to stay in touch with friends who now live in other parts of the globe.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Cluster Conference

Well, I've just finished attending a 2 day conference for our ICT cluster. I presented 2 workshops, 1 on Quest Atlantis and one on connecting learners to global audiences. I was very nervous about presenting as I have only ever presented to my own staff - not a whole lot of others. However, it went really well, I had positive feedback and people seemed genuinely interested. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to share something I'm passionate about with others and I hope that people were able to take something away from my presentation. I created a wiki to go with my presentation which you can check out here.

Our keynote speaker today was Derek Wenmoth He had us all wanting one of these. His presentation focused on preparing our learners to live in a future that is difficult to imagine. I have to say, I always find it mind blowing just how rapidly technology is advancing. Things I've read about in science fiction novels are becoming, if not already a fact of life, then more of a possibility and less like fiction.

Over the last couple of days I've had the opportunity to explore Scratch, Picasa, create pick-a-path stories and tangrams using Powerpoint and simply have the opportunity to talk and share with others. The downside of presenting is that you don't get to go to as many workshops (there were a couple of things I missed out on that I would liked to have seen); however, it gives you a different perspective and you appreciate just how much work is involved in preparing a presentation and just how nerve wracking it can be.

The whole conference ran smoothly, food was yummy and it was a great way to get geared up ready for the start of a new school year.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The power of images

Saw this on Slideshare the other day. I thought it was very powerful - sort of like a visual summary of a Web2.0 world. Some of the images used I thought had the potential to open up all sorts of discussion just by themselves - like the one with all the individuals in the cafe sitting interacting with their computers in front of them, or the couple sitting back to back both interacting with their own technological device - could be great openers for looking at pluses & minuses, with the potential for quite indepth discussion. This slide show has really struck a lot of chords with me - I think it's fabulous. Further more, if you take all the educational thought out of it, I have to say as photographic art works - some of these are just stunning.



Now I know I said I'd write some more about my PLN - and I will, I'm just running out of hours, and much though I love my 2.0 existence - I have to attend day one of our 2 day cluster conference tomorrow. I also have the first of my 2 presentations to deliver - sort of exciting and scary at the same time. With a bit of luck and good management I'll continue my discussion tomorrow - otherwise, it will definitely be Friday.

Monday, 28 January 2008

My PLN has taken me on an amazing PLJ Pt 1 - Introduction.

I had a play with gickr and made this tonight. Just a very simple gif animation and already my mind is ticking over the possibilities for classroom use.
pimp your myspace at Gickr.com
graphic myspace at Gickr.com
Over the course of the last week I have been on a whirlwind journey of learning, challenge, discovery and just plain old fashioned fun! This personal learning journey (PLJ) initially came about as a result of my preparation for the Northern Bays Cluster Conference, where I am co-presenting 1 workshop and presenting a second workshop totally on my own! It was this second workshop that led to the PLJ.

Facilitating my PLJ was my personal learning network(PLN)comprising of a group of educators in NZ and beyond, all of whom I met via Twitter . Now considering that I hadn't even heard of Twitter before the end of September 2007, I have built up a network of people that I regularly interact with online. I have never met any of them face to face;however, I enjoy chatting with them, follow links that they post on the internet, follow some of them via their blogs as well as Twitter and I have even joined Nings that allow me further opportunity to interact with them. What I love about it (apart from the social aspect in what can be an isolating profession at times) is that I am able to access up to date PD, relating to topics that interest me and I have total control over what and how much I take on board and explore. Add to that, the fact that I can interact with like minded others, discussing things that matter to me, means that I am one happy little cyber camper.

There is so much more to share and I promise to return tomorrow and explore this further - for now though, this introduction will have to do. I really wanted to start getting this down as it has been whizzing around in my head for the last couple of days. However, I have also not been to bed until well after midnight for 4 days straight so I need to catch some Zzzzzz's in order to stay sane. I'll post Part 2 tomorrow as I explore this topic further.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Just Thinking Outloud.

My resolution for this year is to really start using this blog as a tool for reflection and global networking with like minded educators - gosh that all sounds a bit high brow - LOL! As I prepare my presentation for our cluster conference next week, I have been reflecting on the growth I have made in my knowledge and understanding of the ICT tools available, the language/terminology I have added to my mental dictionary, the skills I have gained and the people I have connected with since April 07.
In April last year I decided on a new personal motto "Do something that scares you". This was an important turning point for me as I can be shy and I tend to over think situations which means that at times I avoid/ miss out on opportunities because of my own fears and insecurities. I have explored ICT possibilities for most of my teaching career and have included ICT as a tool in my class in some form or other since I began teaching about 15 years ago (Now I do feel old). In my personal life I have used MSN, email, google... all the usual stuff I have belonged to a few teacher list serves over the years. So that's the back ground.

Back to April 07 - I'm a scrapbooker in my spare time and decided I wanted to find out if there were any online forums in NZ for scrapbookers to connect through. A google search led me to SBO, where I found and connected with many like minded others. I chat with these ladies regularly and have developed some online friendships. At the bottom of some of their posts many of the SBO ladies had sig tags that included their blog links. I had heard of blogs before, but had never really explored them. Clicking on these links resulted in my next step forward - I began my own blog. This blog was a place where I could share my scrapbooking pages, burble about my daily life and link to other blogs I enjoyed. I became more confident and started commenting on other people's blogs - this meant that people started to comment on mine and a few more friendships were created. I learnt the html code to create hyper links using key words within my posts and started to discover the world of widgets, some of which I added to my own blog. Visiting other people's blogs I would come across things I hadn't seen before and my knowledge of web tools and toys increased.

Fast forward to the September/October school holidays... I had the opportunity to attend ULearn 07
in Auckland. This conference was an amazing experience for me and accelerated my personal and professional growth considerably. I was exposed to the thought provoking ideas presented by Ewan McIntosh- I was excited to discover that he, like me, had issues with the labels of "digital native" and "digital immigrant" - descriptions I had always felt were simplistic and gross generalisations, especially when I was told I was an immigrant because of my age and yet the definition of "native" behaviours fitted me more closely, particularly given my unusual exposure for a child of the 70s/80s, to a wide range of technology from the time I was born, thanks to my electrical engineer/Ham radio operating father. Derek Wenmoth kept asking "Are you blogging this?" and said that people had been "Twittering" and blogging about Ewan's presentation - he even mentioned that some people were being "Skyped in". I sat there and thought - ok so blogging I get, they're blogging this right now? Wow! - What does he mean about "twittering"? - Isn't "skype" that video phone that David has? and my thoughts were spinning. Never mind that I had a head full of thoughts and questions from Ewan's presentation - plus I badly wanted a Nintendo DS and the "Brain Training" software to go with it - lol!
At morning tea time I noticed signs about the "Blogger's Cafe'" - I knew that I was a blogger, but I didn't blog about school stuff, unfortunately my shyness kept me away for the whole conference - I kept thinking maybe I should go over and see what it's about, but I kept chickening out. I am kicking myself now that's for sure. I attended my breakouts for the day and just felt challenged and inspired - Tony Ryan
as my first break out definitely helped with this. I went home that night - buzzing and blogged about my day - just a little bit. After the second day I was so excited by all the stuff I was hearing - I googled twitter
and signed up straight away - I only had Ewan to follow but it was a start. I also got really brave and left a comment on his blog. From his blog I followed a link to another NZ teacher's blog from a comment they'd left, which led to another blog, and another and so on. I was collecting a blog roll full of teacher blogs - people who thought the way I did and who were as passionate about ICT as I was. I was so inspired I started adding to my blog again - at which point I decided I needed a separate blog for teacher stuff - and so this blog was created.

Since then it has positively spiralled - I have made contacts, connections and friendships via Twitter, been inspired by other amazing teachers. I have discovered del.icio.us, podcasting, Web 2.0, tiny url, Flickr, QuestAtlantis , Voicethread, Ustream.TV, RSS, Bloglines, TeacherTube , Technospudsand so much more. I think what has really amazed me is just what is out there and how educators all over the world are putting it to use. To be able to ask a question via Twitter and get an almost instant response has been fantastic. I have learnt so much from all my online contacts and can really appreciate how technology helps to make the world a smaller place. It is so exciting to be part of a global community of educators all sharing ideas and collaborating and it has provided me with regular, ongoing professional development.